Riddoch sets mark in Eugene win

Greg Riddoch

Eugene, OR- The Eugene Emeralds won 3-2 over the Yakima Bears on a special night at Civic Stadium. The win made Eugene manager Greg Riddoch the winningest skipper in Emeralds history. His 236th win put him one victory ahead of his longtime friend Hugh Luby.

"[Luby] is baseball here in Eugene," said Riddoch. "I don't pay attention to records, but it is special because it was held by such a good friend."

The Emeralds picked up the game-winning run in the sixth inning. Danny Payne laced a single to left and advanced to second on a fielder's choice. After successive groundouts, Justin Baum delivered the two-out go-ahead RBI double that broke a 2-2 tie.

Yakima got on the board first, but solid Eugene relief pitching enabled the Ems to emerge victorious. Cory Luebke picked up the win and Luis Caro took the loss for the Bears. Jackson Quezada retired the side in order to pick up his third save.

The Ems answered Yakima's first inning run with a run of their own. Luis Durango drew the third baseman in with an attempted bunt. Instead of bunting the next time, he hit a running slapper over the drawn in third baseman. Durango moved up two bases on an errant pickoff throw and scored on Kellen Kulbacki's RBI groundout.

Kulbacki picked up his second RBI of the night with a solo homerun to right in the bottom of the third. Initially ruled a double, Kulbacki was correctly credited with a homerun after the umpires conferred. The ball actually shattered one of the lights that denote the amount of outs, making it clear that it was a home run.

"I don't go after umpires because most of them are my kids' age, but the ball [off Kulbacki's bat] certainly hit the scoreboard above the wall," said Riddoch of his confrontation with umpires after Kulbacki was only given a double initially.

"It was a great feeling…it was a 3-2 fastball, and I just wanted to put a good swing on it," said Kulbacki of his first homerun as a professional. "The fact that I haven't been swinging the bat well makes it even more special, it was certainly a feeling I won't forget."

The Bears saw their leadoff man get aboard in six of the nine innings, but could manage only two runs.

Evan Frye's leadoff triple led to the game's first run on Clayton Connor's RBI single. Consecutive base hits by the Bears chased Eugene starter Yesid Salazar in the fourth. Those two hits and a passed ball allowed Ramon Ramirez to score on Joe Ayers' RBI groundout.

Ayers' RBI tied the game at two but Yakima would not score again. A quintet of Eugene pitchers combined to throw six innings of scoreless relief.

Good pitching and great defense were the reason the Bears could not push across any more runs. Shortstop Andy Parrino made two solid plays, including a leaping snag of a line drive that looked destined for left-center field. First baseman Justin Pickett made a diving catch near the Ems dugout to help the Ems get out of the fifth. Catcher Luis Martinez one upped his teammate an inning later, when the Bears had runners on first and second with no one out. Their manager called for the sacrifice, but it was tipped into foul territory and Martinez sprang out of his stance, dove and caught the ball parallel to the ground.

Kulbacki finished the night 2-for-4 with two RBIs and he raised his batting average to .321.

"It felt good to have my manager stick up for me like that, I didn't know exactly where the ball hit because I was so focused on getting to second," Kulbacki said.

The fans at Civic Stadium saw a special night highlighted by Riddoch's record-breaking win and the rare feat of a manager actually winning an argument with an umpire. The Emeralds improved to 9-5 on the year.

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